Keith McNally, the prolific restauranteur behind Balthazar and New York hotspots Morandi, Pastis and Minetta Tavern, posted Monday on Instagram he had banned Corden.
“James Corden is a Hugely gifted comedian, but a tiny Cretin of a man,” McNally wrote. “And the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago.”
McNally said he doesn’t often “86” a customer but did Corden — and it wasn’t done for a laugh or in good humor.
He shared that Corden complained about a hair in his dish to the Balthazar manager, who was apologetic, but that the comedian carried on with the complaint in a nasty manner and demanded free drinks while threatening to leave negative reviews online. Then there was an incident with an omelet where Corden allegedly yelled “like crazy to the server.”
Corden called McNally to apologize and his ban was lifted. “Anyone magnanimous enough to apologize to a deadbeat layabout like me (and my staff) doesn’t deserve to be banned from anywhere. Especially Balthazar,” McNally wrote on Instagram.
The controversy got us thinking about restaurant etiquette. It’s acceptable to speak up after finding a hair in your food and not getting what you ordered. But what’s the best way to rectify the situation? We asked an etiquette expert:
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Keeping manners top of mind makes a difference when facing a dissatisfaction while dining out.
Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, tells USA TODAY that “you can get more with honey than you can with vinegar, that’s the bottom line.”
“When you’re rude, you’re calling attention to yourself in many cases and also you’re making other people feel terrible and you’re sometimes making yourself look bad,” she said.
Often, if you are kind and direct, a situation can be resolved at at a restaurant. It’s important to understand that etiquette is situational.
Every staff and management system has different procedures but their common goal is to keep diners happy. But “that doesn’t give a diner permission to be rude to the waitstaff,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore offered some guidance on four situations that can be dissatisfying and can come up while dining out.
Situation 1: It’s been a long time since you ordered food and it’s still not here.
How to respond: Start by addressing the issue with your server, who is your first point of contact. Ask politely about the wait time and see if your server can check on the food, you can express that your time is limited. Sometimes, Whitmore says, the manager will get involved if the server can’t help.
What to expect: To accommodate a long wait time for food, Whitmore says she has seen measures taken such as a free dessert, glass of wine or even money off of your bill — which you can ask for if you feel it would make up for your dissatisfaction. But you should never expect anything, she says.
Situation 2: You made a reservation but when you arrive, you’re told it doesn’t exist.
How to respond: Whitmore advises showing proof of reservation or noting who you spoke with about a reservation if one was made over the phone.
What to expect: If the restaurant is mistaken, they should try to make amends and correct the situation by offering to try to squeeze you in or offering you a drink at the bar while you wait for a table to open up while keeping open the lines of communication with the guest.
Situation 3: The server brings you the wrong food, or your order isn’t entirely correct.
How to respond: This situation is very straightforward, Whitmore says. “You just say, ‘I didn’t order this. Perhaps someone else at our table did or maybe somebody else did.'” After, make sure that your peers feel free to start eating while you wait for your correct order.
What to expect: When dealing with this herself, Whitmore has had a dessert comped for the mistake. But sometimes, it’s just a matter of waiting — “hopefully not too long.”
Situation 4: Your server is rude to you.
How to respond: In this case, Whitmore says, it’s best to get management involved.
“You definitely want to either write a letter to management take it up with management in person, or you can always leave a negative review online. But that’s an unfortunate thing because that server relies on his or her customers for tips. And you can always show your appreciation by increasing a tip or show your dissatisfaction by leaving a lesser tip. Oftentimes that makes a greater impact than anything.”
What to expect: The manager will then take it up with the server. The manager may also do something for you, but it’s not guaranteed.
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